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Out of Our Minds
Friday, March 26, 2004 9:06 PM
Howard Schultz
Kevin Salwen on Culture

Read any inspiring books lately? They don't need to be business books, but I'm always interested in knowing what inspires. My favorite of the last couple of years is the autobiography of Starbucks builder Howard Schultz, entitled: 'Pour Your Heart Into It.'

I absolutely love the part where he is trying to raise capital for what we now know is a phenomenal biz, but back then was being derided by naysayers as 'a coffee shop.' Isn't this 'coffee-bar concept' a bit loopy, Schultz was repeatedly asked by investors. They pointed out, among a million other objections, that coffee consumption in the U.S. had been declining for more than 20 years. In a year, he asked 242 to help finance his company; 217 said no. The others helped pony up the $1.25 million original raise.

Schultz sums it up by encouraging all of us to think big big big. 'If you want to achieve widespread impact and lasting value, be bold,' he writes. 'Who wants a dream that's near-fetched?' What a great line!


David Berkowitz - 4/8/2004 11:08:56 AM
One more that fits is 'Moneyball' by Michael Lewis, the story of Oakland A's manager Billy Beane. It shows just how far you can go by constantly questioning the prevailing logic, which is too often wrong but convenient.
Dave Berkowitz - 4/8/2004 11:06:45 AM
A couple of the best I've read recently are 'Love is the Killer App' by Tim Sanders, a book advocating the sharing of networks, knowledge, and compassion, and the ultra-insightful 'Management of the Absurd' by Richard Farson, which is smarter than it is inspirational but still worth recommending.
Curt Rosengren - 4/7/2004 1:02:17 AM
I just finished Liv and Anne's book. Incredible. And surprisingly, not for the reasons I mentioned above. It was because of the impact they made on kids and people in general around the world.

Here's a paragraph that really struck me to the core. They were both depressed because, while they had reached the end of the land mass, technically crossing Antarctica, they hadn't been able to finish off the Ross Ice Shelf before their departure deadline, which extends another 400 miles. They were talking by phone from Antarctica to a class of Minnesota schoolkids when one of the kids, named Logan, changed their perspective. [Following is a paragraph from the book.]

'He leaned over the phone and simply said, 'I just wanted to tell you that both of you have been real role models for me. Sometimes I have a hard time with school, and I just used to feel like there were lots of things that I could never do. And now that you guys have done this, I see that I can do anything I put my mind to. You changed my life.'

In the pause that followed, Ann and Liv's disappointment and fatigue fell away. Suddenly, ever fall, every mile, every injury, each bowl of oatmeal choked down, seemed worth it - for Logan and the others out there just like him.

For the first time in many days, Ann and Liv smiled.'

That hit home so incredibly deeply. In a lot of ways, that's what it's all about, isn't it?
Kevin Salwen - 4/6/2004 2:25:49 PM
Thanks for your smart ideas, Curt and Neil. Erik Weihenmayer came to my kids' elementary school a few months back to speak; they are STILL talking about it. He absolutely blew them away.
Neil Theberge - 4/6/2004 1:25:34 PM
The most inspirational book I've read lately is Monkey Dancing: A Father, Two Kids, and a Journey to the Ends of the Earth. It is a simple tale of a family journey, with some touching moments and some elements that made me think about my own big picture.
Curt Rosengren - 4/5/2004 10:50:04 PM
Most of the inspirational books I read have nothing to do with business. They tend to fall more in the genre of 'underdog beats the odds.'

Here's one of my favorites:

Touch the Top of the World: A Blind Man's Journey to Climb Farther Than the Eye Can See
- Erik Weihenmayer

Erik is a world class mountaineer with the highest peak on each continent under his belt - oh, and he happens to be blind. I've talked at length with Erik on a couple of occasions, and one of the things that strikes me most is that he really has the attitude of, 'I'm blind...so what? Why would that stop me?'

Currently reading:

No Horizon Is So Far
- Liv Arnesen & Ann Bancroft

The story of the first women to cross Antarctica.

Both books are inspiring stories of determination, motivation, and 'no is not an option' thinking. Not to mention fun reads.


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